Rare Netanyahu-Feiglin harmony in Jerusalem vote

Due to agreement on candidates for Likud central c'tee, supporters of rival candidates lowers tensions at Likud branches.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
January 31, 2012 21:43
2 minute read.
Netanyahu votes in Likud primary

Netanyahu votes in Likud primary 390. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Likud activist Moshe Feiglin slugged it out in Tuesday’s Likud leadership race, but meanwhile, at the party’s largest branch in Jerusalem, supporters of both men actually got along.

Due to a political deal reached between backers of Netanyahu and Feiglin, the large tents erected by their supporters outside the voting booths at the Jerusalem International Convention Center distributed identical lists of recommended candidates for the Likud central committee.

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Like in 50 other branches around the country where such deals were made, in Jerusalem it was already just as clear who would be elected to the central committee, as it was presumed Netanyahu would defeat Feiglin. The lists distributed were not mere scraps of paper, but actual ballots with dozens of candidates names filled in, ready for the ballot box.

“The agreement was a good idea, because it ended tension in the Likud branch in Jerusalem,” Elisha Peleg, the lone city councilman representing the Likud in the capital, said in an interview in the pro-Netanyahu tent. “But I know that the agreement decreased the motivation a lot of people had to vote because both races were already decided.”

Peleg has been a Likud member for 37 years and was the party’s spokesman when it took power for the first time in 1977. He accompanied Netanyahu and his wife Sara when they came to vote at 10 a.m., when the polls opened.

The Likud jingle blared as Netanyahu arrived at the convention center.

He used the photo opportunity, as he did all day, to plead with people to vote and avoid questions from reporters about the scandal surrounding his Chief of Staff Natan Eshel.

When Feiglin arrived, he also had to deal with a pesky adversary. One of his former top supporters in Jerusalem, Fred Moncharsh, greeted him with signs calling him a “false prophet” and followed him around whenever cameras were present. Moncharsh later switched to a sign with an embarrassing quote from Feiglin from 2009 urging people to vote for Kadima leader Tzipi Livni rather than Netanyahu.

“I honestly think that Moshe Feiglin is a hypocrite, because even though he was a Likud leadership candidate, he preferred someone from a rival party for prime minister,” Moncharsh said. “He is not a real Likudnik, and I think it’s important that the prime minister be given a mandate in this election.”

Moncharsh ran for the Likud’s Knesset lot reserved for a Jerusalemite in 2008.

Instead of backing Moncharsh, Feiglin backed Keti Shitrit of Beit Shemesh, who Moncharsh said opposed the ideals of Feiglin’s Manhigut Yehudit organization.

“He didn’t screw me,” Moncharsh said. “He supported someone without the Likud ideology, who backed the disengagement from the Gaza Strip.”

Feiglin’s top activist in Jerusalem, Nitza Kahane, said Moncharsh was not causing too much trouble.

“Fred doesn’t bother us,” she said. “He just has an American mentality that everything has to be super clean, and that doesn’t work here.”

The oddest sight at the convention center was Feiglin holding a piggy bank bearing the likeness of none other than US President Barack Obama. The piggy bank was given to Feiglin by Jerusalem activist and entrepreneur Aaron Bashani.

“I am selling the Obama banks to increase awareness of the Iranian threat,” Bashani said. “I gave one to Feiglin because he is a candidate for prime minister, and I came too late to give one to Netanyahu.”


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